Google is increasingly dominating the online sphere. With this comes many valuable sources of information for businesses. Most people are familiar with things such as Google Analytics and how that can be leveraged to enhance the success of your online presence. However, one thing that many people do not realize is valuable – or even know about – is Google Trends. Let’s talk about Google Trends and how to use it for market research.
What are Google Trends?
Google Trends is a Google site that provides statistical information on search terms. For example, if you go to Google Trends, you will be met with several graphs and data regarding what is currently trending on the search platform. You’ll also find interesting tidbits such as the “Year in Search.”
However, you can also type a search term or topic into the bar at the top to find a wealth of data about the topic or keywords. At the moment of writing this article, a search of the phrase “change brake fluid” reveals that the search is most popular in Washington, Texas, and California, has a moderately steady amount of interest over time and has the related query “how often should you change brake fluid?”
Similarly, if you were to search for a topic instead of a phrase, you would get info on the topic. A search for Taylor Swift finds popularity in Rhode Island, DC, and Massachusetts (but generally high popularity in every state) with a large peak of interest in July 2020. It also lists related queries relating to combinations of keywords such as “folklore Taylor Swift.” In other words, Google Trends presents a tremendous amount of data on virtually any topic or keyword.
How Can I Use Google Trends for Market Research?
Market research is an important aspect of understanding your customer base. However, traditional market research can be extremely expensive. Fortunately, Google Trends provides an interesting and free alternative that only takes a bit of time. Let’s explore how to use Google Trends for market research.
1. Keyword Research
One of the most important things you can do is keyword research. This can help you identify what terms and phrases to target with your SEO strategy. When you type in a term, you can scroll down to the “related queries” section to find similar things that are being searched for. This can provide a list of popular phrases currently being used in searches.
Let’s say you are writing a blog about interior design tips. Typing “interior design” into Google trends will reveal related inquiries such as “fluff interior design” and “art nouveau interior design,” which can help you decide the topic of the blog and utilize keywords to better increase its visibility.
2. Discover What Customers Care About
An incredibly useful feature of Google Trends is the ability to drill down into the data by geography, industry, and many other variables. You can use this to enhance your understanding of your specific customers.
Let’s say you operate a lawn care business in Houston, Texas. Simply select the geography filter and type in Houston (or Texas to be broader). Next, select the “All Services” button, click “Home & Garden,” then click “Gardening & Landscaping.”
You will see two areas of interest. First, under “Related Topics,” you’ll see Moss Landscaping (a company), The Woodlands (an area where landscaping is currently popular), and the front yard (a topic). These help you better understand what you’re customers are searching for.
You’ll also see “Related Queries,” where you will see “landscaping trailers” and “landscaping rocks near me.” This indicates potential products that are popular in your area right now. This can help you tailor your social media content, marketing e-mails, or sales.
3. Investigate Competing Brands
Understanding the competition is another valuable insight you can gain from Google Trends. It is really easy to find out what customers are searching for about different brands. Simply type in the name of the company in the search bar and watch the results. Feel free to filter geographically as well for more specific data.
Typing “In N Out Burger” currently reveals popular topics including “fry sauce” and related queries involving amounts of calories and protein. Typing “Disney” reveals related topics of Hamilton, Mulan, and Soul as well as related queries of Disney Plus and Disney Premier Access. In other words, the major queries right now are related to streaming content.
4. Identify Seasonal Trends
When searching for how to use Google Trends for market research, an easy method is to dig into the data to identify and take advantage of seasonal trends. Google Trends shows twelve months of data regarding the popularity of search terms. For example, “bathing suit” peaks in June and hits a low in November. This is expected. However, you can find unique trends as well.
If you are a florist, you’ll find that “roses” peak around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day while “tulips” peak in early April. “Carnation” is fairly steady throughout the year, but “hyacinth” has a huge spike in early April. This can help you target your advertising and social media posts.
5. Compare Terms or Competitors
A comparison feature is a powerful tool within Google Trends. Compare different search terms for popularity over time or compare competitors. For example, a comparison of iPhone and Android shows the former fairly substantially dominating the latter in terms of search results both over time and geographically.
Meanwhile, a comparison of “Chiefs” and “Buccaneers,” the past year’s Super Bowl participants shows the Chiefs typically outperforming with the two teams receiving equal searches around the playoffs. In terms of geography, the Chiefs were hot throughout most of the country while the Buccaneers were vastly more popular in Florida and New England (thanks Tom Brady!).
Google Trends is a very useful tool that can be used to conduct market research for your business. The interface is relatively easy, and playing around with the site for a short period will allow you to identify the different tools at your disposal. Using Google Trends for market research is an easy way to help better refine your business strategies by leveraging free data.